By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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The Rangers players have abided by the edict all season long, letting their hitting, pitching and fielding do the talking as they rolled to a 17-1 regular season mark.
After making state with a 17-0 dismantling of Evergreen Lutheran in the Bi-District championship game on Friday, the Rangers could finally crow a little bit.
It’s the Rangers’ fourth straight trip to the state tournament.
Quilcene will begin state tournament play at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima on Friday.
Ace pitcher Sammy Rae was untouched on the mound against the Eagles, throwing a five-inning perfect game, her third no-hitter of the season against Evergreen Lutheran and fourth overall.
“She was just dealing today,” Thompson said.
“And when she’s on it is tough on the other team, absolutely.”
Rae was on from the start, chalking up six straight strikeouts after Evergreen Lutheran lead off the game with a ground out.
“I’m not sure if its a lineup thing; I just think every game we played them I’ve been on and had really good stuff,” Rae said.
So was the rest of the Quilcene roster, which bolstered Rae’s confidence with some sterling defensive plays, strong hitting and aggressive base running.
The Rangers’ first baseman Katie Bailey saved the perfect game with one out in the top of the third by ranging to her right and snaring a line drive that had base hit written all over it the moment it left the bat.
On the next batted ball, third baseman Celsea Hughes grabbed a spinning popout to third to end the inning.
“Our defense is probably the most-improved aspect of our game this year,” Thompson said.
Shortstop Allison Jones preserved perfection to open the fourth, making a nice dig on a low grounder and firing to first for the put out.
“I love having them back me up,” Rae said.
“Just knowing that they are behind me and if the other team hits off me, they’ll back me up and get the out anyway.”
“It’s a really good feeling.”
Rae did herself a couple of favors defensively in the fourth, coming off the mound quickly to deftly field two slow-rolling tappers up the first-base line and toss to first for outs.
Offensively, Megan Weller started the onslaught by lacing a single through the second-base gap and then scoring on a triple by Rae in the bottom of the first.
Jones followed by launching an inside-the-park home run to deep center field, to plate herself and Rae.
Jones was recently moved down in the batting order from hitting first to batting in the cleanup spot.
The move has paid dividends with Jones launching home runs in two straight games.
“We have been leading her off most of the season, and all year we’ve needed a four-hitter because we have Sammy batting third, and I guess she’s it,” Thompson joked after the game.
“She’s just a talent.”
Hughes then walked and advanced all the way around the bases on three straight wild pitches to score another run for Quilcene.
Emily Ward singled and scored the Rangers’ fifth and final run in the first on an error by the Eagles in center field on an Alexis Gray popup.
Quilcene used hits and stolen bases by Weller and Jones and a two-run single by Gray to score five more runs in the second.
The Rangers then posted three hits and took four walks to score six more runs in the third, including a two-run double by Bailey.
Bailey finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs, Rae was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Jones had the home run and was walked in her two other plate appearances to lead Quilcene.
Thompson was effusive in his praise afterward.
“We have a great bunch of young ladies here, they know how to play the game, how to play it right and they know how to win,” Thompson said.
Rae also was happy to finally have the chance to utter the forbidden word.
“We weren’t allowed to say state until this moment,” Rae said after the game.
“We’ve earned it and it feels great.”
Quilcene 17, Evergreen Lutheran 0
Evergreen Luth. 0 0 0 0 0— 0 0 3
Quilcene 5 5 6 1 x — 17 12 0
WP- Rae; LP- Schwark
Quilcene: Rae 5 IP, 8 K, 0 R, 0 H.
Quilcene: Bailey 3-4, 2 RBI; Weller 2-2, 2 R; Rae 3-4, 3B; Jones 1-1, HR, 2 BB, 3 RBI; Gray 1-2, 2 RBI.